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Maharana Pratap (May 9, 1540-January 29, 1597) was a ruler of Mewar, a state in north-western India. He belonged to the Sisodia clan of Suryavanshi Rajputs. The epitome of fiery Rajput pride and self-respect, Pratap has for centuries exemplified the qualities that Rajputs aspire to. Pratap, eldest of 25 brothers and 20 sisters, was born at Kumbhalgarh on Sunday the May 9, 1540 to Maharana Udai Singh II and Maharani Javanta Bai Songara (Chauhan). Polygamy and maximum children were social necessity of the period owing to higher female population and high battle casualties. Rana Pratap had 17 sons and five daughters. The male-line descendants of Udai Singh II bear the patronymic "Ranawat". Maharana Pratap was Born in Pali-Marwar. His birth place known as Juni Kacheri.  

In 1568, during the reign of Udai Singh II, Chittor was conquered by the Mughal emperor Akbar. The third Jauhar of Chittor transpired, with the ladies of the fort finding "safety from personal dishonour in the devouring element (fire)," while the remaining menfolk sallied forth to certain death in the battlefield.
Prior to this calamity, Udai Singh and his family had wisely moved to the safety of the nearby hills. He later moved base to another location in the foothills of the Aravalli Range. This new base gradually became the city of Udaipur, named after him. Udai Singh wanted Jagmal, his favourite son, to succeed him but his senior nobles wanted Pratap, the eldest son, to be their king. During the coronation ceremony Jagmal was physically moved out of the palace and Pratap was made the king. Pratap did not want to go against the wishes of his father but Rajput nobles convinced him that Jagmal was not fit to rule in the troubled times of the day. It was the beginning of a career of struggle and hardship.
Maharana Pratap never accepted Akbar as ruler of India, and fought Akbar all his life. Akbar first tried diplomacy to win over Maharana Pratap but nothing worked. Pratap maintained that he had no intention to fight with Akbar but he could not bow down to Akbar and accept him as the ruler. Some scholars argue that there was some possibility that Maharana could have become friends with Akbar but in the siege of Chittor when Akbar killed 30,000 civilian, unarmed residents of Chittor, because they refused to convert to Islam, left a lasting impression on Maharana's mind and he decided he could not bow to such an injustice and cruelty. (The Hindu warrior code was to refrain from attacking a non-combatant or a person who has laid down his weapons.)
In Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan on Pages 83-84 is mentioned Pratap's stopping marriages between Rajputs who gave there daughters to Mughals and his supporting Rajputs:
With such examples as Marwar and Amber (of giving their daughters to Mughals), and with less power to resist the temptation, the minor chiefs of Rajasthan, with a brave and numerous vassalage, were transformed into satraps of Delhi.
But these were fearful odds against Pratap. The arms of his country turned upon him, derived additional force from their self-degradation, which kindled into jealousy and hatred against the magnanimous resolution they lacked the virtue to imitate. When Hindu prejudice was thus violated by every prince in Rajasthan, the Rana renounced all matrimonial alliance with those who were thus degraded. To the eternal honour of Pratap and his issue be it told that, to the very close of the monarchy of the Moguls, they refused such alliances not only with the throne, but even with their brother princes of Marwar and Ambar. It is a proud triumph of virtue to be able to record from the autograph letters of the most powerful of the Rajput princes, Bukhet Singh and Sawai Jai Singh, that whilst they had risen to greatness by the surrender of principle, as Mewar had decayed from her adherence to it, they should solicit, and that humbly, to be readmitted to the honour of matrimonial intercourse and "to be purified," " to be regenerated," " to be made Rajputs" and that this favour was granted only on condition of their abjuring the contaminating practice (of giving daughters to Mughals) which, for more than a century, had disunited them.
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Chittorgarh (Chittor fort), Pratap's ancestral home, was under Mughal occupation. Living a life on the run, the dream of reconquering Chittor (and thus reclaiming the glory of Mewar) was greatly cherished by Pratap, and his future efforts were bent towards this goal.
Nearly all of Pratap's fellow Rajput chiefs had meanwhile entered into the vassalage of the Mughals. Even Pratap's own brothers, Shakti Singh and Sagar Singh, were serving Akbar. Indeed, many Rajput chiefs, such as Raja Man Singh of Amber (later known as Jaipur) were serving as army commanders in Akbar's armies and members of his council. Akbar sent a total of six diplomatic missions to Pratap, seeking to negotiate the same sort of peaceful alliance that he had concluded with the other Rajput chiefs. Pratap roundly rebuffed every such attempt.
For the new capital-Udaipur, Maharana Udai Singh constructed a water reservoir–Udai Sagar in 1565. It was on its dam that in June 1573 Kunwar(Prince) Man Singh of Amber, as the emissary of Mughal Emperor Akbar, arrogantly demanded that Maharana Pratap should give up protocol and be present at the feast in his honour. Pratap and Man Singh were of the same age, both were born on May 9, 1540, but one was king while the other a prince. Pratap, following the protocol, sent his son Kunwar Amar Singh to dine with Kunwar Man Singh Akbar's special envoy.This incident precipitated the Mughal-Mewar conflict. (Man Singh was a Kunwar, his father Raja Bhagwan Das led another unsuccessful peace mission to Maharana Pratap in October 1573 at which Maharana Pratap was personally present). Raja Bhagwan Das and Kunwar Man Singh won Kashmir for Mughals in 1586, that is Man Singh was NOT the Raja of Amber, later Jaipur, till 1586. Man Singh was confied the title of Mirza Raja in 1590.
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Battle of Haldighati

On June 21, 1576 (June 18 by other calculations), the two armies met at Haldighati, near the town of Gogunda in present-day Rajasthan. While accounts vary as to the exact strength of the two armies, all sources concur that the Mughal forces greatly outnumbered Pratap's men. The battle of Haldighati, a historic event in the annals of Rajputana, lasted only four hours. In this short period, Pratap's men essayed many brave exploits on the field. Folklore has it that Pratap personally attacked Man Singh: his horse Chetak placed its front feet on the trunk of Man Singh's elephant and Pratap threw his lance; Man Singh ducked, and the mahout was killed.
However, the numerical superiority of the Mughal army and their artillery finally began to tell. Seeing that the battle was lost, Pratap's generals prevailed upon him to flee the field so as to be able to fight another day. To facilitate Pratap's escape, one of his lieutenants, a member of the Jhala clan, donned Pratap's distinctive garments and took his place in the battlefield. He was soon killed. Meanwhile, riding his trusty steed Chetak, Pratap made good his escape to the hills.
But Chetak was critically wounded on his left thigh by a Mardana (Elephant Trunk Sword) while Pratap had attempted to nail down Man Singh. Chetak was bleeding heavily and he collapsed after jumping over a small brook few kilometres away from the battle field. While Pratap’s General donned Pratap’s clothing and armour, it went unnoticed thanks to the chaos of the war but for two Turk knights from the Mughal army. They could not communicate it with others in their group, due to linguistic barrier (the appropriate language would have been Persian, Marwari or Arabi). They immediately followed Pratap without wasting time. The moment they started chasing him Pratap’s younger brother Shaktisingh who was fighting from the Mughal side (he had some disputes with Pratap at the time of Pratap’s coronation; hence he had defected and gone over to Akbar’s court) realized that his own brother was under threat. Prataps' general's sacrifice had already been discovered by him. He could not help but react against a threat to his own brother. He followed the Turks, engaged them in single combat and killed them. In the meanwhile,Chetak collapsed and Pratap saw his brother Shaktisingh killing the two Mughal riders. Saddned by the loss of his beloved general and horse, he embraced his brother and broke into tears. Shaktisingh also cried and asked for his brother's pardon, for having fought as his enemy. Pratap pardoned him (later on he was given a huge estate near Chittor). Shaktisingh then offered him his own horse and requested him to get to a safe place. This incident is famous in Rajasthani folklore, a song “O Neele Ghode re Aswar” (O Rider of the Blue Horse) mentions it.
A mausoleum to Chetak is at the site of the steed's death.
The impact of the battle on the Mughal army was also significant. In terms of numbers the Mughal army suffered heavier losses. This was also because of the intensive arrow showers by the Bhil tribes of the surrounding mountains who had aided with Pratap. To honour their contribution, a Bhil warrior was placed next to Pratap in the Royal Coat of Arms of Mewar.
The battle of Haldighat is considered to be the first Major breakthrough of Rajputs against the Mughals since the Second Battle of Khanwa in 1527, which was fought between Rana Sanga grandfather of Maharana Pratap, and the Mughal Babur grandfather of Akbar. It is regarded with a degree of significance by many Rajput families.
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Hakim Khan Sur Pathan
Hakim Khan Sur Pathan was a descendant of Afghan, Sher Shah Suri and wanted revenge from Mughals so Hakim joined Pratap. Numerous Hindu temples were systematically destroyed by Mughals. Pratap and other Rajputs fought to save their religion. Presence of some Muslim mercenaries in Rajput armies does not imply that fights with Mughals was not to protect the Hindu religion.
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Jhala Maansingh
Jhala Maansinh is an outstanding dazzling example of extraordinary valour, bravery and sacrifice who shrouded with the glory of struggle for freedom. In the battle of Haldi Ghati in 1576, Jhala Maan decorated himself with the Crown and the royal emblem from Pratap and started fighting valiantly.
Jhala Maan has set a unique example of bravery and courage by sacrificing his life to save the life of Pratap for his country.
Jhala Maan belongs to BariSadri, which also have Jhala Maan circle and bus stand on his name.
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Chetak, the white horse of Marwari breed (an indigenous Indian breed) had a short neck, a tail with bushy dense hair, narrow back, big eyes with sharp sight, sturdy shoulders, broad forehead and chest. Considered beautiful and poetically divine, this horse had balanced muscular body with an extremely attractive appearance, blessed with flying legs.
Chetak is described as possessing a rare, acute intelligence, restraint and courage coupled with unflinching faithfulness to his master.
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Raja Poonja
The Bhil warriors in the battle of Haldi Ghati, participated under the leadership of Rana Poonja. The enthusiastic Bhils worked as secret informers and running messengers In Mewar state the history of Guhil clan is full of daring deeds, the contribution of Bhil community is unforgettable. At the time of Ghuhaditya's coronation the "Tilak ceremony was performed by the blood flowing from the thumb of Mandleek -a "Bhil" Sardar. "
Due of this, royal emblem of Mewar State carries a Victory Tower which is flanked by a Rajput warrior on one side and " a bow -arrow-bearing Bhil", on the other.
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Bhama Shah
Bhama Shah made a mark in the history of Mewar.Son of Bharmal Kawadiya and born 450 years ago, he is a matchless example of honesty, faith and duty. He was not only the treasurer of Pratap but also fought like a soldier when the need arose. Maharana Pratap was able to properly maintain his army of 25000 soldiers for 12 years only because Bhama Shah has gifted his property and also a collection of 25Lakh rupees and 20000 gold coins from Maalpura during financial crises.
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Pratap retreated into the hilly wilderness of the Aravallis and continued his struggle. His one attempt at open confrontation having thus failed, Pratap resumed the tactics of guerilla warfare. Using the hills as his base, Pratap harassed the large and therefore awkward Mughal forces in their encampments. He ensured that the Mughal occupying force in Mewar never knew peace: Akbar despatched three more expeditions to ferret Pratap out of his mountainous hideouts, but they all failed. During this era, Pratap received much financial assistance from Bhamashah, a well-wisher. The Bhil tribals of the Aravalli hills provided Pratap with their support during times of war and their expertise in living off the forests during times of peace. Thus the years passed. As James Tod writes: "There is not a pass in the alpine Aravalli that is not sanctified by some deed of the great freedom fighter, Maharana Pratap Singh; some brilliant victory or, more often, some glorious defeat." On one occasion, the Bhils saved the Rajput women and children in the nick of time by conveying them into the depths of the mines at Zawar. Later, Pratap relocated to Chavand in the mountainous southeastern area of Mewar. Still harassed by the Mughals, the exiles survived in those ravines for many years by subsisted on wild berries and by hunting and fishing.
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Prithviraj Rathore's letter
The letter from Prithviraj Rathore was sent to Pratap in poetic language, ran like this.
Patal sun Patshah, bole mukh hunta bayan
Mihir picham dis mahn, uge kasap rao ut
Patakun munchyan pan, ke patakun nij tan karad
Dije likh Deewan,in do mahali bat ik
(The mouth of Pratap has begun to say "Badshah". O Rao! has the sun started rising in the West, as well? Should I keep my hand over my mustache or should my body fall with my own hands? O Deewan! write an answer chosing between the two)
Pratap replied to this letter like this.
Turak kahasi turakado, in mukh sun Ikling
Uge jya hi ugasi, prachi bich Patang
Khushi hunt Peethal Kamadh, patako munchyan pan
Jete hai pachatan Pato, kilama sir kewan
(Lord Eklingji will always make my mouth call him "Turk". The sun will rise in the east always. O Prithviraj Rathore be happy and put your hand on your mustache. Till Pratap stands on his feet, his sword will keep hovering over the heads of the invaders.)
When the exiles were facing the prospect of actual starvation, Pratap wrote to Akbar indicating his readiness to negotiate a treaty. Pratap's first cousin (his mother's sister's son) Prithviraj Rathore, who was one of Akbar's coutiers, heard of this overture. He is said to have grown despondent and written thus to his cousin Pratap:
The hopes of the Hindu rest on the Hindu surya yet the Rana forsakes them. But for Pratap, all would be placed on the same level by Akbar; for our chiefs have lost their valour and our females their honour. Akbar is the broker in the market of our race; he has purchased all but the son of Udai (Singh II of Mewar); he is beyond his price. What true Rajput would part with honour for nauroza (the Persian new years' festival, where Akbar selected women for his pleasure); yet how many have bartered it away? Will Chittor come to this market ...? Though Patta (an affectionate name for Pratap Singh) has squandered away wealth (on warfare), yet he has preserved this treasure. Despair has driven man to this market, to witness their dishonour: from such infamy the descendant of Hammir (Maharana Hammir) alone has been preserved. The world asks, from where does the concealed aid of Pratap emanate? None but the soul of manliness and his sword.. The broker in the market of men (Akbar) will one day be surpassed; he cannot live forever. Then will our race come to Pratap, for the seed of the Rajput to sow in our desolate lands. To him all look for its preservation, that its purity may again become resplendent. It is as much impossible for me to believe that Pratap has called Akbar his emperor as to see the sun rising in the west. Tell me where do I stand? Shall I use my sword on my neck or shall I continue my proud bearing?"
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Pratap replied to him:
"By my God Eklinga, Pratap would call the emperor Turk alone (the word 'Turk' carries a pejorative flavour in many Indian languages) and the sun would rise in the east. You may continue your proud bearing as long as Pratap's sword dangles on the mughal head. Pratap would be guilty of Sanga's blood, if he was to tolerate Akbar. you would have the better of it, no doubt Prithviraj, in this wordy quarrel."
Thus ended the incipient rapprochement between Pratap and Akbar.
Akbar's expeditions
Akbar kept sending expedition after expedition against Maharana Pratap but never succeeded. He lost lot of money and men in trying to defeat Maharana Pratap. For 30 years Pratap remained ahead of Akbar and in last ten years of his life was able to free most of his kingdom. The only fort Pratap could not recover was Chittor and that saddened him a lot. His son, Amar Singh, won that fort after Pratap's death.
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Last days
Maharana Pratap died of injuries sustained in a hunting accident. He died at Chavand, on January 29, 1597, aged fifty-six. It is said that as he lay dying, Pratap made his son and successor, Amar Singh, swear to maintain eternal conflict against the Mughals. Thus, his strained circumstances did not overpower Pratap even in his declining years; he remained intrepid to the end. He also did not sleep on a bed because of a vow he took that until Chittor was freed he will sleep on the floor and live in a hut despite the fact that he had reconquered almost his entire kingdom back from Akbar.
Maharana Pratap's son, Amar Singh, fought 17 wars with the Mughals but he conditionally accepted them as rulers. At this time, a large chunk of Maharana Pratap's band of loyal Rajputs became disillusioned by the surrender and left Rajasthan. This group included Rathores, Deora Chauhans, Pariharas, Tomaras, Kacchwaha and Jhalas. They are called "Rors" and settled mostly in Haryana, with some in Uttar Pradesh. Even today they do not intermarry with other Rajputs but "gotra permitting" within the Ror community only.
Maharana Pratap is a great hero in the eyes of Indians, much respected and loved by his people. During a dark chapter of Hindu history, Pratap alone stood firmly for his honour and dignity; he never compromised his honour for safety. He died a proud and free man.
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Before the Battle of Haldighati started, Man Singh Kacchwaha was out hunting with a few hundred retainers. Pratap's Bhil spies reported this to him at his camp a few kilometers away. Some of Pratap's nobles suggested that they seize the opportunity to attack and kill Man Singh. Pratap refused, demonstrating his sense of rectitude.
In another incident, the womenfolk of Abdur Rahim Khankhana, a mughal officer, fell into the hands of Pratap's son Amar Singh. At this point of time, Khankhana was actually on the march against Pratap, and was camping at Sherpur in order to make preparations for an assault against Pratap. Nonwithstanding all this, Pratap commanded his son Amar Singh (eldest of 17 sons and 5 daughters) to arrange for the safe conveyance of the Mughal ladies to their camp. Khankhana was so affected by this incident that he refused to campaign against such a chivalrous monarch. He petitioned Akbar to be relieved of his post and was subsequently (in 1581) appointed guardian of Akbar's own son, Salim. Also it is considered that the slogan "jo dridh rakhe dharm ne tahi rakhe kartar is given by abdul rahim khankhana who is also known "Rahim das" in Hindi poetry.
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Present Day Status
Following India's independence in 1947, Maharana Bhupal Singh (reign 1930-1955) was made Maharaj Pramukh (=Governor) of Rajasthan State 1952-1955 - the only post in Republic of India specially created for Mewar! Maharana Bhupal Singh was the first ruler to merge his state with independent India (18 April 1948). India's first Union Home Minister (Loh Purush -the Iron Man) Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel reprimanded the reluctant Hyderabad and other states saying that "...if any ruler in India had any right to claim of independence it was Mewar, which has gladly and readily merged with the Indian Union saying that it was fulfillment of 13 centuries of their mission...but for Mewar no other rulers has that right..." Even in the post-independent period, the Indian public, Indian Presidents, Prime Ministers and politicians irrespective of their political affiliation, continued their appreciation and reverence to the values of Mewar. The noted Indian freedom fighter, Union Minister and founder of Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, and one of the great persons of literature of modern India, K. M. Munshi (1887-1971) has written," ...the Maharanas of Mewar represented the best and noblest in Hindu culture and polity...they translated into practice the Puranic concept of Ram Rajya...
Maharana Pratap has always been held in great esteem in India and was projected as model of patriotism and freedom struggle against the British rule in India. The names Pratap and Chetak, his stallion, are very famous and the Government of Republic of India has issued commemorative Stamps (1967, 1998) and coins (2003) to honor this great Son of India. The grateful nation installed Pratap's Chetak-mounted statue along with those of his more renowned associates - Jhala Maan, Bhilu Raja (the tribal chief), Bhama Shah, Hakim Khan Soor and an attendant-foot-soldier in front of the Parliament House in New Delhi on August 21, 2007.
Maharana Pratap Memorial (MOTI MAGARI)

An impressive bronze statue of Maharana Pratap and his favorite and loyal horse, who was fiercely protective about his master and stood by him till his last breath, stands at the top of Moti Magri (Pearl Mount) overlooking Fateh Sagar. Local people climb the hill to pay homage to Maharana Pratap and his faithful charger 'Chetak', who was killed in the battle of Haldighati. There are the ruins of one of the first modest palaces of Udaipur and there is also a charming Japanese rock garden not faraway. The Memorial has the first Light & Sound Program in Rajasthan that encapsulates the glorious 1400 years of history of Mewar.

Source: Wikipedia

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